Why I’ll Hold Off On A New Phone For Now

We have been customers of Sprint cell phone service for quite some time now.  My wife and I last renewed in August 2010 when we both got new Blackberries.

This was, of course, within days of the world deciding that they hated Blackberries and weren’t going to buy them anymore.  Everybody officially switched to either iPhone or Android based machines within days.

But, I digress.

Sprint’s program basically gives you their ‘best pricing’ on phones if you sign a two year agreement.  Two months shy of the end of your agreement, they once again offer you the best pricing they have, so that you’ll extend with them.   I guess they figure that those last couple of months are the time that you’ll use to start shopping around, so they entice you with a good deal and try to keep your wandering eyes off other carriers.

June 1st was the day that Sprint said I was eligible, so I looked around to see what the deals were.

What I noticed were:

  • They have definitely cut back on the deals – I’ve never gotten cutting edge phones, but I’ve always been able to snag a phone somewhere in the middle of the pack for relatively cheap.  After discounts and promotions and such, I’ve gotten the phones for free or paid around $50 at the high end.  The mid-range phones I see nowadays will likely cost $150.
  • It will increase my plan cost – Shortly around the time we renewed in 2010, Sprint started charging an extra $10 per month for 4G capable phones.  I guess they didn’t hear too much squawking, because they then switched this to $10 per month for all smartphones.  If you already had a smartphone prior to this, which we did with our Blackberries, you didn’t have to pay.  But, as soon as you activated any other smartphone, the $10/month per line kicked in.  This hit us when my wife’s Blackberry died last summer and we had to replace it.
  • I’m still warranty covered – My phone has never had any problems, so I’m still covered under my Squaretrade warranty until my actual two year agreement.  I believe if I were to get a new phone, I could get another Squaretrade and transfer my unused time to covering that phone, but the way I look at it, the two months I have left are bonus time….I could get $350 from the warranty plus the $150 discount from Sprint.
  • My work has offered to get me a smartphone.  They don’t do reimbursements, but they’ve recently offered to provide a phone.  Even though this would save money, I’m hesitant because I don’t know what security/monitoring I would be ‘agreeing’ to, plus I feel that this obligates you to be available 24×7.  Oh, and it’s on the AT&T network.  Which is pretty awful around here.
  • The unknown – Sprint’s 4G coverage is a joke, yet they are apparently upgrading it.  Still, the lack of upgrades is puzzling though they keep promising better days ahead.  I guess I’d like to see it before I believe it, as cell phone companies tend to oversell things and underdeliver on them down the road.

I guess long and short, I see myself as in a pretty good spot.  I could upgrade at any time, though right now I am fine with the Blackberry.  When my wife’s phone died, we actually used the Squaretrade money and bought an off-the-floor model from the Sprint store, which was a slightly higher price, but kept us from having to extend her contract, meaning that we have the flexibility to renew or switch carriers, or look for the best deal, pretty much at any point.

I’ve never been one to rush out and get the latest and greatest cell phone, pretty much because I can’t stand spending that kind of money on things that are designed to become obsolete way before the contract extends that you sign up for (I similarly dislike spending money on computers and such, but at least you’re not locked into a two year anything when buying a PC, laptop, or tablet).  So, for now, I’m in absolutely no hurry!

UPDATE: I ended up taking advantage of the offer from my employer to get a work provided cell phone, so I no longer have to deal with Sprint, though my wife is still stuck on the Sprint plan.

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Flat Panel TV Prices Set For A Big Holiday Drop?

I just read an article that a retailer survey indicates that prices on flat screen TVs will be dropping quite a bit between now and the end of the year.

That means that you could see some big savings if you are planning on any TV purchases around the holidays.

We’ve purchased two TVs in the past couple of years.  The first was a 19″ Sceptre for our television.  That has been pretty good though you can definitely tell there is nothing special about it.  There’s a lag between flipping channels, the digital channels that come through the cable connection can’t be input with the channel numbers (you have to go to a nearby channel and then channel up or down) and the picture is good but not remarkable.  Still, it’s a much better set than the small tube set that it replaced (whose sound was so screechy it was practically intolerable), and for the price, it was great.

The second set we purchased was a 32″ Samsung for our bedroom.  I spent a lot more time making sure we got a great set since that’s where we end up watching most of our TV.  I’m glad I waited because that set is simply awesome.  The menus and features are awesome, the picture is amazing, and the sound is very good, something that I found was a pretty common complaint for other mid-size TVs. With that experience, I would most definitely consider a Samsung first and foremost for any other TV purchase that we make that would be watched regularly.

We have no immediate plans to buy any new TVs, but if something breaks or a deal that can’t be passed up comes along (we have a budget for electronics made exclusively of credit card rewards money), it’s good to know that prices seem to be heading in a direction that favors the consumer.

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